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Mendes Wood DM New York
June 23 - August 5, 2023

"When I paint, I sit with the objects and experience without touching, feeling but not feeling."

Mendes Wood DM is pleased to present Everything All At Once by the Los Angeles-based painter Kent O’Connor (b. 1987 in Virginia, USA). The exhibition brings together portraits, a series of self-portraits, landscape paintings, and interior scenes for the artist's first solo presentation in New York City.

O’Connor does not consider his interior scenes as still lives, instead calling them “table paintings” or simply objects on a table. A key work in the exhibition, A Bigger Table (2022-23) exemplifies this: a beach ball, a weathered cactus, a Challah loaf, a lobster, quaint tulips, and a Crystal Geyser jug of water all strewn about, with different perspectives, and inhabiting different planes, brought together impossibly by their shared table surface. In Drop Cloth Table (2023) a curious cast of objects—a rifle, a plastic glove, a hand of playing cards set down—give the impression that the human occupants of the scene have just stepped out of the picture frame, as if leaving a stage between acts. Naming each object an “actor,” within their own drama, these are worlds constructed of misfit objects, whose symbolic meanings are deconstructed by the artist's own experiences.

O'Connor paints often en plein air, both in his backyard in Los Angeles and in the wilderness. Last autumn, he completed a residency in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, where he painted outside each day in a different location. Working outdoors introduced elements of the unexpected, in an environment which offers no control over the shifting clouds, fervent rivers, or insects which flew into his works. His banff series offers landscapes from the artist’s time spent in the natural world, as well as meditations on the transitory conditions in which he painted, reflecting the changing nature of landscapes.

The exhibition seems also transfixed with portraiture. Included are seven drawings, self-portraits presented on sketchbook pages that have been freshly torn from their bindings, some smudged, ripe from their creation. The portraits of the artist's friends Anya, Matt, and Lucy, all painted this year over the course of several sittings, have been rendered with an unguarded gaze. As in O’Connor’s own self-portrait, Portrait of the Painter with Palette (2023), there is a stiffness to their presence, both wistful and amused, as if a surrender to the canvas.

Everything All At Once offers insight into the artist’s daily observation, preserving objects, landscapes, and gazes free from romanticism.

Kent O’Connor (b. 1987 in Virginia, USA) lives and works in Los Angeles. He has received a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA from Yale University School of Art.

Recent solo exhibitions include Close the Door Behind You, Matthew Brown, Los Angeles (2021), New Paintings, Diane Rosenstein, Los Angeles (2018); and Flower Paintings, The Study, New Haven, CT (2017).

Recent group exhibitions include Their Private Worlds Contained the Memory of a Painting that has Shapes as Reassuring as the Uncanny Footage of a Sonogram, curated by Sedrick Chisom, Matthew Brown, Los Angeles (2022); The Scenic Route, 1969 Gallery, New York (2021); It Seems So Long Ago, Matthew Brown, Los Angeles (2020); Open Air, Tong Art Advisory, East Hampton, NY (2020); Seven Year Itch, Diane Rosenstein, Los Angeles (2019); Way Out Now, Diane Rosenstein, Los Angeles (2018); Heads/Tails, Next to Nothing, New York (2018); and Oily Doily, BBQ LA, Los Angeles (2016).

In 2017, O’Connor was awarded the Dumfries House Fellowship at the Royal Drawing School in Ayrshire, Scotland.

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